(Penang, Tuesday): Suhakam
is facing a national crisis of confidence in two short years, as illustrated by
the 100-day boycott or ďdisengagementĒ by 32 NGOs, to protest the
governmentís poor response to Suhakamís numerous recommendations, the
latest appointments to Suhakam and Suhakamís own failings.
is another cause for the Suhakam
crisis of confidence. Parliament
has failed in the past two years to
give all necessary support to Suhakam to protect and promote human rights as by
having special debates on Suhakam reports and establishing a Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Human Rights
to scrutinise Suhakam recommendations so as to give back-up to Suhakam in its
discharge of its champion human rights in the country.
passed the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 which stipulated that
Suhakam must present an annual report to Parliament of all its activities as
well as table special reports to Parliament whenever it considers necessary
ďin respect of any particular matter or matters referred to it, and the action
taken in respect thereofĒ. (Section 21).
placing on Suhakam a statutory duty to present an annual report and other
special reports to Parliament, MPs have the reciprocal obligation to diligently monitor and examine
Suhakamís reports and consider its recommendations to judge as to whether
Suhakam has fulfilled its two-point objective to check human rights abuses and
to promote human rights awareness as advising and assisting the government to
uphold human rights in its actions and to recommend to the government the
ratification of international instruments in the field of human rights.
Parliament had been completely remiss in its duties in the past two years as
it had virtually thrown the first Suhakam annual report 2000 and the Suhakam
report on Freedom of Assembly into the parliamentary waste-paper basket, by not
giving them any attention or consideration, when Parliament should
have held special debates and
established an all-party Parliametnary Standing Committee to specifically
scrutinise Suhakam reports.
disregarding the Suhakam reports, Parliament had helped to denigrate and degrade
the status of Suhakam when it
should be doing all it could to enhance Suhakamís standing and prestige as Suhakam
was established by Parliament by a special legislation in 1999.
had not submitted its report on the Kesas Highway Inquiry which was made public
last August, but there was no interest or concern in Parliament. In
fact, Suhakam has contravened its parent Act which requires it to submit its
annual report 2001 to the last meeting of Parliament, but no MP seems to be
Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar had hijacked the Suhakam annual
report 2001 on the ground that Suhakamís report to Parliament must be
submitted to him first as he was the Minister assigned to be responsible for
is the latest example of Executive subversion
of the principle and process of parliamentary democracy, depriving Parliament
the right to unhindered and uncensored report from Suhakam as provided by law.
Hamid had done is most illegal, unparliamentary and runs counter to the whole
spirit of an independent Human Rights Commission, as Parliament never gave the
Foreign Minister the power to vet or censor Suhakam reports before they are
submitted to Parliament.
may be the Minister assigned the responsibility in
government for the portfolios of human
rights and Suhakam, but this does not make him the overlord of Suhakam or make Suhakam responsible, answerable or subservient to the Foreign
Minister - which is an illegal
Executive usurpation of the
statutory powers and functions Suhakam.
Hamid should respect both the spirit and words of the Suhakam Act which intends Suhakam to be completely independent of the Executive, and withdraw the clutches of control which the Foreign Ministry had exercised over Suhakam.
The 1999 general election saw one of the election of the biggest number of opposition
MPs in Malaysian electoral history
- a total of 45 MPs from PAS, DAP, KeAdilan and PBS (which, together with its
three MPs, recently leapfrogged
back to Barisan Nasional) - which was 20 short of the magic figure of 65
needed to deny the Barisan Nasional its unbroken two-thirds
parliamentary majority as compared to 31Opposition seats in
the 1995 general election.
the past 30 months however, such influx of Opposition MPs into Parliament
in the nationís history has not
arrested the relentless process of undemocratic encroachments by
the Prime Minister and the Executive into the powers and provinces of
Parliament, which had started since Merdeka in 1957 but reached its most serious
stage in the two-decade administration of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
fact, Parliament had never been treated with more contempt by the Executive and
been more impotent and ineffective
to discharge its trinity of parliamentary functions - to legislate, to
deliberate and to hold the
government to account - than in the past 30 months.
first act of the 10th Parliament after the November 1999 general
election was to be a party to the statutory rape of the Constitution, where the
Executive showed utter contempt to both Parliament and the Constitution by
unconstitutionally summoning the meeting of Parliament without the proper
authority of the Yang di Pertuan Agong before the formation of the new Cabinet -
as required by the Constitution.
tyranny of the Barisan Nasional
majority in Parliament in arbitrarily suspending the DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong
Poh Kuan, for six months without allowance for trying to raise in Parliament the
Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) examinations scandal is further proof of the
need for far-reaching parliamentary reforms to make
the Malaysian Parliament a more representative, democratic and effective
institution to fulfil the aspirations
of ordinary Malaysians.